Friday, December 9, 2011

Question of the Week (12/9/11)

This week your question of the week is worth 40 points and is a two-parter. Make sure you answer both to receive full credit.

In the beginning of The Power of One, violence is a day-to-day certainty for our protagonist Peekay. Give several (3 or more) examples of how Peekay manages this violence using evidence from the text. Do you think violence always perpetrates more violence? Are there exceptions? Or is standing up to an aggressor in a non-violent manner more successful? Discuss your reasons, again citing examples from the text using MLA format.

Cite 3 quotes from people Peekay has met in his adventures and analyze them. How has Peekay used this advice in his life thus far? Has this advice shaped Peekay or helped him to overcome some of his obstacles? What do these quotes reveal about the character who uttered them? In addition, make some predictions for our protagonist as to what will happen in the upcoming chapters.

Don't forget to respond to a classmate's response. Enjoy your weekend.


PaulH said...

First Post, Part One, Question one

By Paul.H

During the beginning of the Power of One by Bryce Courtenay, Peekay the protagonist has to deal with a day-to-day violence because he is an Englishman and most of the Boers hate him because of what the English did to them during the Boer Wars. For example, Peekay has been constantly harassed on a day-to-day basis by the judge and the jury of the Boarding School and he decides to not react to the violence that is bestowed upon him. As Peekay learns, it is more to his advantage to camouflage himself so that he is not exposed to less violence, “Mediocrity is the best camouflage known to man” (Courtenay 30). Peekay tries to blend in with the crowd of Boer kids and tries not to appear different than them; he is essentially choosing to act in a way that will not lead to more violence. Another example of Peekay using “camouflage” to avoid violence is that Peekay tries to stand up to the judge (his aggressor) in a non-violent way and it is successful. Peekay starts to notice that the judge is very bad at arithmetic and that he could use this to his advantage and possibly stop his forced daily marching. Peekay’s plans work and, “The camouflage was intact and I’d moved up into the next evolutionary stage. From knowing how to hide my brains I had now learned to use them” (40). This approach by Peekay is definitely the way for him to go when he faces the judge and jury. Peekay has learned that in order to help stop the violence that he is exposed to he has to stand up and act in a smart non-violent way. But an example of where this doesn’t work is when Peekay infuriates the judge because he doesn’t cry when he is constantly exposed to harassment, “One thing that got them more than anything else. They couldn’t make me cry” (45). This turned out to be his most effective technique to get his own “revenge”. So in the end I would say that the way for Peekay to end violence directed at him is to retaliate with a non-violent action or no action at all.

In my own life I believe that the way to respond to violence can vary greatly on the situation and what will help you at the time to stop it. I believe that if you retaliate with violence it can some times result in even more violence, but it depends on the person and the situation that you are in. I also believe that in some cases the best way to react to violence is to standing up to an aggressor in a non-violent manner. This can help you calm the situation down, and it can also some times end the problem right there and then.

PaulH said...

First Post, Part One, Question two

By Paul.H

Though the first eleven chapters of The Power of One Peekay has met many people in his adventures. The most significant characters that he has met and who have truly affected his life are Hoppie, Grandfather, and Professor von Vollensteen. Hoppie is a boxer who introduces Peekay to boxing and the “equalizers” which are boxing gloves. He teaches him many life lessons and the most significant one up to this point in our reading is, “First with the head and then with the heart, that’s how a man stays ahead from the start” (103). Peekay ends up using this advice many times throughout his life; he uses this to help him believe that he can do anything that he really wants to do, such as learning how to box and becoming a boxer at a younger age. Hoppie’s advice has helped him to overcome the obstacle of being afraid of what other kids will do to him because he is English. It also helps him to really understand that his life is not an utter waste and that he was born for a reason. Also Hoppie’s advice helps him to realize the significance of the individual, the power of one. This quote by Hoppie reveals to us, the reader, that he may be one of the most influential people on Peekay’s life. Even though Hoppie is young, he has much to offer to Peekay. My prediction is that Peekay will continue to use this life lesson many times throughout his life and that he will use it to help him get through things when the times are hard.

Another character who affects Peekay’s life is his grandfather who chooses not to be involved in his life as a fatherly figure. Even though up to this point in the book, Peekay’s grandfather has chosen to not get involved with Peekay, he still teaches Peekay a major life lesson that “Life is all beginnings and ends” (142). This helps Peekay to realize that his view on life is not the only view there is and that everything good or bad has to come to an end. This also helps Peekay because he realizes that even though what he is going through right now might be difficult, it will come to an end and he will learn to move on. Up to this point in the book the only time Peekay has really had a good opportunity to use this advice to overcome obstacles is when Grandpa Chook dies. Even thought this advice comes much later, it helps him to move on. This quote shows that Peekay’s grandfather isn’t directly involved in his life, he is indirectly involved. It also reveals that Peekay’s grandfather might be of some help to Peekay any way even if he isn’t directly involved in his life. My prediction about this word of advice is that Peekay will not let beginnings and ends of things slow him down; he will keep moving forward.

PaulH said...

Part 2, Question two

By Paul. H

Finally, Professor von Vollensteen, a professor of music and a German, has a great love for cactuses. Peekay meets this professor when he returns back home form his boarding school and he helps him to find a cactus that he had been looking for most of his life, the Aloe Microsfigma, a tiny spotted cactus that likes to hide under rocks. Up to this point the doc had been talking to Peekay’s mom about the photo he took of Peekay on a rock. “Of course! But sadness, like understanding comes early on in life for some. It is part of Intelligence” (153). Peekay has used this advice in his life because he has accepted that he needs to use his intelligence to help make his life better and in doc’s mind, it is a sin if he doesn’t. This advice has also helped Peekay to overcome the problem of doc getting arrested and put in an internment camp because he uses his intelligence to make it possible so that he can come and see the doc whenever he wants. This quote also shows that the doc has had this same experience of using intelligence to make things better and that he is trying to help Peekay use it to his own advantage so that he doesn’t have to be a victim of his cir circumstances. My prediction about this word of advice from the doc is that Peekay will not let his sadness hinder his own life and that he will use his intelligence to get through difficult times in his life.

John Gehlbach said...

Part 1:

In the modern world, violence tends to invoke the response of more violence. In the context of the novel, violence is mostly surrounded by more conflict and aggression. The protagonist, Peekay, manages violence to the best of his ability by blending in to his environment.
First all, Peekay is exposed to violence at the first school he attends, but endures the violence of the judge and his stormtroopers by being submissive to their torture. Peekay describes the situation he faces, “Most torture sessions began with the iron bar. I was required to hold the bar out in front of me while he timed each session. For shooting practice I was required to stretch my arms out on either side of me with my palms open and turned upward. Together we just had to hope for the best and muddle through” (43). Peekay manages the cruelty of the Judge and his followers by accepting their punishments. This form of camouflage gives comfort to Peekay while in these hostile environments. Standing up to violence by accepting it is unsuccessful for Peekay in this instance. However, it is impossible to say that if he fought back more torture would not have continued as well.
Moreover, Peekay witnesses extreme violence in the prison, but manages it through passiviness. While talking to Klipklop and Lt. Smit, Peekay sees a horrible beating but remains silent. “In two bounds Klipklop had reached him, and, grabbing him by the front of his canvas shirt, he lifted him off his feet and gave him a tremendous swipe across the face. The blow landed with a loud, flat sound and the black man’s face seemed to squash in slow motion” (188). In this case, Peekay probably prevents more violence by not standing up for Geel. A harsher beating for Geel would be the result of Peekay asserting his non-violent opinion.
Lastly, Peekay blends into the world of boxing and responds to its violent manner by participating and camouflaging himself as boxer. The aggressive world of boxing is a source of violence in the novel. Peekay aims to integrate himself into this world, rather than oppose its negative elements. After successfully pleading with Lt. Smit to join the boxing squad, Peekay’s true feelings become apparent. “I nodded, overjoyed. My eyes brimmed with tears. I had taken the first step to becoming the welterweight champion of the world” (194). Though boxing is a lesser form of violence in the novel, Peekay still manages it by pursuing boxing and celebrating its positive components.
In summary, Peekay mitigates the violence that surrounds him by blending in to his environment. The various forms of camouflage he crafts protect him, or mostly prevent more violence. Sometimes standing up to violence without violence can be successful. In large groups of people this method of protest has proved effective over the years. However, without large numbers, this method could yield a continuation of violence and oppression as the perpetrator feels no consequence for his or her actions.

John Gehlbach said...

Part 2:

Peekay, an impressionable youth, experiences many unique role models and mentors in the novel. Though there are negative influences, the following characters demonstrate a positive affect on Peekay.
Inkosi-Inkosikazi gave Peekay the mental ability to meditate and focus himself in stressful situations. During a particularly intimidating boxing match, Peekay uses the teachings of Inkosi-Inkosikazi. [Spoiler Alert] “I closed my eyes and counted from ten to one. I was a young Zulu warrior who had killed his first lion and I could feel the lion-skin skirt around my hips. I crossed the ten stones to the other side, opened my eyes, and looked directly at Kroon. Killer Kroon saw something in my eyes that made him turn away and not look at me again” (250). Peekay regains his confidence through meditation and is therefore able to best his opponent. Since Inkosi-Inkosikazi teaches Peekay these techniques, he most know them himself. The reader therefore learns Inkosi-Inkosikazi himself has the power to focus and achieve greatness. This wonderful ability to focus on what is important and concentrate will prove instrumental in Peekay’s successes in life, especially when Peekay has to fight an intimidating opponent.
Furthermore, Hoppie is another positive mentor towards Peekay. He teaches Peekay many important lessons. Specifically, he instills more confidence in Peekay. Peekay asks Hoppie about the plausibility of his boxing dream, “‘Do you think I can do it, Hoppie?’ I was desperate for his confidence in me. ‘Piece a’ cake, Peekay. You’re a natural.’ Hoppie’s words were like seed pods with wings. They flew straight out of his mouth and into my head, where they germinated in the rich, fertile, receptive soil of my mind” (74). Hoppie is able to plant the idea of self-worth and confidence in Peekay. Hoppie must have confidence in himself especially as a fighter. He is able to transfer this knowledge to Peekay which is important in Peekay becoming a champion.
Lastly, Doc positively influences Peekay to hone his mental ability and use logical reasoning. While Peekay watches the other boxers sparring during a practice session, he longs to join them. Nearby, Doc oversees Peekay’s emotion and he says “In music you must first do the exercises, always first the exercises. If you do the exercises goot, then you have the foundations. You can not build a good musician on a bad foundation. I think with this boxing business it is the same” (209). Thinking about the situation logically helps Peekay temper or overcome the obstacle of impatience. Through this lesson and many more, the reader learns Doc is a very logical person and that he cares for Peekay. Doc notices Peekay’s distress and tries to calm him. Peekay now knows in his mind that a strong foundation is important. It is probable that Peekay will demonstrate this principal in his future experiences and conflicts.

Response to Paul’s Post:
I agree and support your point on how Peekay uses camouflage. It was very innovative to use the homework example as a means for Peekay to respond non-violently to the Judge. Also, integrating your personal experience was surprising but appreciated! I wonder if Grandpa with take a more active role in shaping Peekay’s development in the future?

Philip Caffry said...

In the beginning of The Power of One, Peekay is constantly beaten, tortured and made to do things that nobody ever wants to do. Peekay manages this violence by not reacting whenever they try to cause him harm. Instead what he does is try to make the most of the situation. Like when the Judge makes him march around the yard. “Carrying his books back from school, I would memorize his arithmetic lesson and then I would work the equations out in my head as I marched along” (39). Here, he is making the most of the situation and turning what would otherwise be a painful exercise, into a joyful experience. He enjoys doing the math and learning, so the way that the Judge is trying to hurt him isn’t working. He responded with out violence and it worked. He also manages the violence by camouflaging himself. He camouflages himself by acting normal and not showing how smart he really is. “Mediocrity is the best camouflage known to man” (30). That is a saying that he developed and it works, it proven to work because whenever he takes down his camouflage, he gets beaten or hurt. “‘You wicked, rotten, lying, cheating child!’ she screamed, raising her steel-edged ruler. The blows rained down on me…” (32). He lowered his camouflage and got the beating of a life time. The best way Peekay deals with the violence that he is subjected to, is by camouflaging himself and never taking it down.
In my experience violence, usually leads to more violence, and being the youngest of three kids, I know that when you hit somebody because they hit you. You are going to get pummeled by that person. Standing up to somebody in a non-aggressive manner is always the best solution. Look at how far that peaceful resistance got Gandhi. If he had resorted to violence, there is no doubt that he and his cause would have lost. But, the American Revolution was very violent but it was also successful. Because of that, I can not say whether or not violence is the best solution because it depends on the circustances.

Kelly G said...

Part 1:
In the beginning of The Power of One, violence is extremely prevalent. Peekay is subject to much abuse at his boarding school. He describes himself as the Judge's "slave" and states that "the odd cuff behind the head or a rude push from an older kid was about all I had to endure. Things were pretty good, really" (29). While most of us would view beatings, however rare, as bad or unenjoyable, Peekay declares that everything was "pretty good", indicating that this type of behavior was a much lesser form of earlier behavior.
Indeed, earlier on in the novel he was subject to horrible abuse. In one memorable scene, the Judge and his friends urinate on Peekay. He "felt a sudden splash on [his] neck and assumed it was warm blood trickling over [his] trembling, naked body and across the cold cement floor and into the drain" (5). This is an entirely inhumane way to treat a person, and he goes on to describe himself feeling as though he were a pig in a slaughterhouse.
However, not all violence in this novel is like the incidents described above. Some of the violence comes from sport. When Peekay goes to a boxing match, he witnesses violence of a different type. He describes Hoppie, a boxer, "jabbing straight lefts right on the button every time" until he "[lands] another left uppercut to Jackhammer's eye when the big man [tries] another desperate charge" (94).
I do not think that violence always perpetuates violence. I think it is much more successful to stand up to an aggressor in a non-violent manner. However, this method is usually much more difficult. For example, Peekay uses cunning to fight the Judge's violence. He does the Judge's homework for him, and in turn the Judge lessens the abuse upon Peekay. "I-I can help you, sir," he says (39), and with these words come the greatest action against the Judge's violence that he has ever done.

Kelly G said...

Part 2:
Peekay has met some interesting people during his adventures who have imparted some valuable advice upon him. Hoppie, a boxer, tells Peekay "First with the head and then with the heart, that's how a man stays ahead from the start" (103). This is a dictum that stays with Peekay throughout the novel. Peekay refers to this when things get hard, and it reminds him that he can do anything he sets his mind to. Big does not always trump small. Boer does not always trump English. This reveals that Hoppie is a source of inspiration for Peekay and has been through struggles of his own. I predict that this advice will lead Peekay to do something great, something he wouldn't have done before– something utilizing his "power of one".
Dr. Henny, who fixes his ear for him after he is beaten by the teacher, tells Peekay that "we are all South Africans, son. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise" (36). This is important, because it opens Peekay's mind to the reality that one should not and cannot let racism and nationalism define oneself. This is really the first time in the novel that Peekay begins to understand that there might not be such a huge difference between himself and everyone else, including the Boers. This reveals that Dr. Henny is against the racism and nationalism displayed in South Africa. This reveals that there are most likely more people like Dr. Henny– an important discovery for Peekay, who, until this point, assumed everyone thought he was "wicked".
Lastly, Doc, the German professor with whom Peekay becomes great friends, tells Peekay "It is better just to get on with the business of living and minding your own business and maybe, if God likes the way you do things, he may just let you flower for a day or a night. But don't go pestering and begging and telling him all your stupid little sins, that way you will spoil his day" (171). This advice is important for Peekay because he has been very confused about God and religion. He is stuck between his mother's devoutly Christian views and his beloved Nanny's traditional, tribal beliefs. To hear Doc speak of God as though he is a friend, a person, helps Peekay develop his own sense of religion and Faith. This reveals that Doc is wise and has gone on his own religious journey. I predict that Peekay will use this information later in the novel to develop his own sense of religion and Faith and perhaps he will have to ask God's forgiveness or help.

Kelly G said...

Responding to a classmate:
I thought what Philip said about fighting violence with non-violence was very interesting and I wholeheartedly agree. I am also the youngest of three kids and I have experienced the desire to retaliate and the effects of said retaliation. When your older brother pushes you, you never push back, because he is stronger and he will win.

Philip Caffry said...

Hoppie Groenewald. “P.S. Say always to yourself, ‘First with the head and then with the heart, that’s how a man stays ahead from the start.’ H.G.” (103). Hoppie Groenewald is a friend of Peekay who is like a older brother to him. Peekay was only with him for a little over a day but in that day he grew to care for Hoppie more than he cares for his mother. This quote is best seen when Peekay is at the prison yard and is boxing with a kid that is bigger than him. Peekay thinks about what he should do, he doesn’t do what his heart wants him to do which is to charge in and give the kid a devastating blow. Peekay waits and waits until he gets his chance. This quote is going to continue to be part of Peekay’s fighting in the streets and in the ring.
When Big Hettie died she had given him a quote to remember her by. “‘Pride is holding your head up when everyone around you has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it,’ I repeated” (124). Peekay has very little pride. But he has a lot of courage. He is not proud about the fact that he is an Englishman but he is courageous enough to tell everyone that he really is an Englishman. Since he ahs so much courage, it is only a matter of time before he is proud of who he is and what he does. When he becomes that person he will be truly unstoppable in the ring and truly unstoppable in any aspect of his life. Never again will he become prey to bully like the Judge. Because of her advice he can use Hoppie’s advice even better and be able to win every fight he is in. This quote shows that even though Big Hettie is a drunk, she is a kind and caring person. Not to mention that she is very smart.
Then there was Doc, he taught Peekay about his own intelligence and that sadness is natural. “‘Of course! But sadness, like understanding, comes early in life for some. It is part of intelligence’” (153). Doc says this to Peekay’s mom, and it was ingenious what it did was have his mom let him do what he wants to do. His mom is now never telling him what to do, he makes his own decisions and everything is good in his life because of that. This truly shows the intelligence of Doc, and how persuasive he can be.
My prediction is that Peekay and the Judge are at some point going to meet each other again and this time instead of Peekay getting the beating of his life. The Judge is going to finally feel the impact of Peekay’s punch and is going to have nobody but himself to thank.
Paul and I had some of the same quotes but the one that he chose that I didn’t, is from Grandpa. I didn’t choose this quote because I didn’t think that his grandpa played such as big a part in his life as Big Hettie did. That’s just my opinion.

Philip Caffry said...

Good job anyway though Paul you had a lot of interesting points.

Billy D said...

Peekay has three main responses to violence acceptance, camouflage, and pushing back. His acceptance is shown more in the verbal abuse he receives at his school. He even accepts the responsibility of causing both his mother’s and Miss du Plessis mental breaks. I knew, of course, that I was to blame and it struck me with dismay that I had probably been the direct cause of my mother’s nervous breakdown as well” (36) Peekay’s camouflage technique is clearly displayed with Peekay’s relationship with the Judge and his followers. When planning his homework helping ploy with the Judge Peekay admits, “I must say I was worried. Every time I had blown my camouflage, disaster had followed” (39). The rarest of Peekay’s responses is to pushback demonstrated in his argument with his mother over Nanny. “‘The Lord is a shithead!’” (141) In this instance Peekay is lashing out at his biological mother for sending his Nanny, the closest thing Peekay had to a mother, away.
The first of many inspirational quotes comes from Hoppie, a boxer who Peekay meets on his way to his new home. “‘First with the head and then with the heart that’s how a man stays ahead from the start.’ H.G” (103). Hoppie has fulfilled a fatherly roll that is otherwise lacking in Peekay’s life. Hoppie is a good character but in my opinion he is not quite sensible enough to think up this quote. Despite this however the quote sticks to Peekay. Peekay understands Hoppie’s point that if you react sensibly and don’t be rash things are more likely to turn in your favor. More wise words are spoken by Hoppie’s friend Big Hettie, a character who seems to deserve less wisdom than Hoppie. “‘Pride is holding your head up when everyone around you has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it’” (124). Although we do gain some insight into Big Hettie’s extensive life experiences she still seems a bit hypocritical. It is not courage that allows Big Hettie to stick out of the crowd but her abundance of alcohol. Again however Peekay adopts this into his live, altering him ever so slowly off his camouflage based defense system. Peekay’s grandfather lost his wife while she gave birth to his daughter and this pain explains the reason for his less inspirational quote.“‘Life is all beginnings and ends. Nothing stays the same lad’… ‘Parting, losing the thing we love the most, that’s the whole business of life, that’s what it is mostly about’” (135). This quote pertains to Peekay’s need to find some constants in life. Peekay has lost many important aspects of his life: Nanny, Grampa Chook, his home, Doc and Peekay’s father is not present for whatever reason. Peekay has been looking for a kind of rhythm so he may settle down and I predict he will continue to look for this throughout the book.

Anonymous said...

Part One:

Peekay manages violence rather well for a five year old. He has always been accompanied by Nanny's safe side, as for now he's all on his own and learning to handle it the best he can. He learns early on that " crying is a luxury good adapters have to forgo" (7). Most five year olds would cry after experiencing any form of violence. Peekay is able to understand that if he allows himself to cry, he gives the Judge another reason to pick on him. Another also manages violence by camouflaging. Although Peekay is very smart, he went by his realization that " survival means never being best at anything except being best at nothing" (29). Peekay was in an English class for seven years olds and he was minimizing his reading skills to draw less attention to himself. He would appear to "pause and stumble over words that were perfectly clear to me" (20). Peekay believed that he would begin to go unnoticed as it became harder for other kids to think of him as different. Lastly, Peekay was able to convince the Judge to end his violence through manipulation. Peekay came up with a plan to help the Judge pass Math class and in return not be hurt. This plan worked perfectly and Peekay was even able to have the Judge promise to say nothing about Peekay if Hitler comes. "Okay, man, you got me there. I will say nothing to HItler about you until I've passed at the end of the year" (41).

I do not think that violence perpetrates more violence and I've shown that with my examples of how Peekay handles violence; he didn't return violence onto the Judge. Peekay has also proved that standing up to an aggressor in a non-violent manner is more successful. Peekay was able to manipulate the Judge. By doing his math homework, Peekay would no longer have to endure the Judge's violence until after the term ended.

Anonymous said...

Part Two:

In his travels, Peekay met Hoppie. Hoppie works on the train Peekay took to his Granpa's. He also taught Peekay many life lessons and the art of boxing. Hoppie told Peekay " Never forget, Peekay, sometimes, occasionally, you do your best boxing with your mouth." (89). Peekay continues to use his mouth as his main communication device and not his body. He expresses his dislike of his mothers new obsession, Jesus, by yelling at her instead of becoming violent as he has experienced. I think this advice will always be close to Peekay. Even when he was dealing with the violence of the Judge, he never choose to use his fists, rather he would talk his way to safety. This quote also tells how Hoppie doesn't always rely on his boxing skills. He is famous in the world of boxing, yet he is able to realize that boxing is not always the right way of communication and that in many ways, talking gets one farther in life. With this quote, it can be predicted that Peekay might find himself in a situation where he uses his boxing skills, then is penalized in some way realizing that he would have gotten farther by talking.

During Peekay's stay with his Mother and Granpa, he met Professor von Vellensteen (Doc). Doc not only taught Peekay music, but also about plants. Peekay skipped school to be able to spend more time learning from Doc. He told Peekay that "the more you know, the more you can control your destiny" (157). Peekay is starting to follow the instructions of this advice. He is learning more and using what he learns. I also think this quote relates to Hoppie's advice in the sense that although Peekay was never the source of violence, that there are many other ways to manage things. I believe that Peekay will use this advice to his advantage as he continues to experiences situations where he is being picked on. I think Peekay will begin to be able to use his knowledge to get himself out of situations were he would be hurt as his was in boarding school. Doc's advise informs the reader of how he himself has done this too. Which is shown as he was able to stay hidden from the Germans and the police for nearly 15 years.

"Better still to concentrate on love, there is already too much hate in this land of ours. This country has been starved of love too long." (114) Peekay receives this advice from Big Hettie, who he mets on the last part of his train ride. Big Hettie has experienced abuse in a relationship and in telling this to Peekay, most likely hoping he doesn't go through what she has. I don't think Peekay has yet realized the importance of this piece of advice. Peekay has already experience much hatred in the past year as well as loss. He looses his beloved Nanny and his friends Hoppie, Doc, and Granpa Chook. In the next year I predict that Peekay will use this advice. Perhaps forgiving his Mother for imposing her Christian believes and becoming close to her. This quote shows how Big Hettie was sad that she never experienced love in a positive way. She dies on the train ride, and had only experienced an abusive relationship, which doesn't enable her to feel love and be loved. Big Hettie probably always yearned for love and she probably hoped that by staying in the relationship, the abuse would end.


John, I really liked how in your first part each of your three examples showed a different way of how Peekay camouflages himself. Each shows something new of how Peekay handles himself, yet they all back up your main point.

Andrew H said...


Peekay manages violence in a peculiar way. Where most five year olds would cry when beaten, he quickly realizes that crying does no good. His two main reactions are either to suck it up and deal with it, camouflage himself, and in only one case so far, stand up for himself. When the judge smears kak in his face, he finally snaps and calls the judges mother a whore, he is sorely beaten for this and grandpa Chook is killed as a result. I think that this probably will make him a little wary about standing up to bully's because his only friend died because of him. In another case he does stand up, but in a different way. After he is viciously kicked in the jaw by a mp, he testifies in court that it was not "Doc" that kicked him but rather the mp. This saves Doc and gives peekay a chance to show his smarts. He usually just takes the violence and moves on, like when the judge would make him hold the metal bar above his head. he never resisted or tried to run away, he just stood there and accepted the punishment. I believe that this is because he thought he deserved it because he is a rooinek. Violence usually perpetrates more violence, standing up to an aggressor in a non-violent manner hardly ever works, but a healthy dose of their own medicine usually does. The way that peekay can stand up to those aggressors is boxing, and i think it is partly a way to use all the beatings from his childhood as anger and fuel to win fights

“First with the head and then with the heart, that’s how a man stays ahead from the start” (103). This is what Hoppie tells him about boxing but it can really apply to anything. This shows him that small can beat big and that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. He even passes this information on to some of the prison guards when they are talking about boxing. I think that this quote reveals that hoppie is not an overly emotional man. It says dont rush into anything without thinking it over and dont let your emotions get the best of you. The next quote is said by big hettie "Pride is holding your head up when everyone around you has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it"(115). I think that this quote really helps peekay when he sheds his camouflage. It really is a metaphor for shedding camouflage. because if everyone else bowed their heads, to stay "concealed" you would do it too, but courage helps you overcome that. Peekay uses this all the time. He has courage to testify in court and to dive in front of a kick aimed for doc. This tells us that big hettie isnt afraid of standing out and it makes sense, how could someone of her size not? The next quote is from Doc "sadness, like understanding comes early on in life for some. It is part of Intelligence” (153. This helps peekay realize that sadness is vital in life and that it is okay to be sad and cry.For him it has come early on in life. the death of a close friend, and that of a not so close friend, a crazy mom who sent his actual mother-figure away, many violent acts. Peekay is one resilient kid but this much grief early on in life cant be good to be kept inside and i feel that this quote kind of helps peekay release it. It tells us that Doc is speaking from personal experience and that he has had a moment of sadness too (when he messed up beethovens 5th in a concert in berlin).

Phil, i disagree that non-violence is the best way to stand up to someone, sometimes it just makes them more angry and pursue you even more, there is a time and a place for each and one will never always be more effective than the other

Natalia said...

Part 1:
The Power of One by Bryce Courtney begins right before World War II. This story is told by Peekay. Peekay is an English “rooinek.” He had grown up with his Nanny until age five when his mother had a breakdown and he was then sent to boarding school. At boarding school he was picked on for his race, he was a rooinek among Boers.
Peekay learned three ways to manage violence. One was camouflage. “The holidays had blunted my sense of survival: adapt, blend, become part of the landscape develop a camouflage, be a rock or a leaf or a stick insect, try in every way to be an Afrikaner.” (23) Peekay used camouflage around the Judge and his friends (a group of Boers) at school. If he let down his guard just once there could be conflicts.
Peekay went home to his Nanny after going to boarding school and soon met Inkosi-Inkosikazi the medicine man who would solve the problem of his “night waters” by taking Peekay to the place of the three waterfalls. Inkosi-Inkosikazi assured Peekay, “When you need me you may come to the night country and I will be waiting. I will always be there. You can find me if you go to the place of the three waterfalls…” (16) This was another way Peekay coped with the torture of the Judge and his group of friends, which was by going to the mystical place of the waterfalls. Peekay learns to be in two places at once and learns to ignore pain and gains courage.
Peekay uses a third method to manage violence, which is making himself useful to his opponent. Peekay knows he’s smarter than the Judge. He tells Judge he can do his homework for him if he wants to pass. In this way the Judge grows to rely on Peekay because soon everyone thinks the Judge is ‘so smart’ and he loves being in that position of respect.
Even though Peekay helps the Judge, after school is finished and he has no more use for Peekay, he ends up torturing Peekay. Even after killing Peekay’s much loved rooster, Granpa Chook, the Judge wasn’t satisfied. “Why won’t you cry, you fucking bastard?” (50) The Judge and his friends couldn’t make Peekay cry whatever they did. Peekay learned that standing up to the Judge in a non-violent way by ‘not crying’ was a very successful approach. Peekay de-escalated the circle of violence by not fighting back. He just didn’t cry. “They couldn’t make me cry… I suspect they even began to admire me a bit.” (45)
Peekay managed violence through camouflage, by showing courage and not crying (going to the place of the three waterfalls), and by making himself useful to his opponent (the Judge). Though he was overwhelmed with all the violence he found at boarding school, he coped really well for a five-year-old boy alone for his first time without his Nanny.

Natalia said...

Part 2
Peekay met three people that impacted his life significantly. He met Inkosi-Inkosikazi, Hoppie, and Doc. These three people help Peekay and encourage him to be strong by respecting himself. Peekay does overcome quite a few obstacles but is able to deal with them with the lessons he has learned from his new friends.
Inkosi-Inkoskazi is the medicine man who cured Peekay’s night waters and also the man who taught Peekay a trick to put a chicken into a trance. “The chicken trick is our bond. We are now brothers bound in this common knowledge and also the knowledge of the place of the waterfalls in the dreamtime. Only you and I can do this trick or come to that place.” (17) Using the trick, Peekay makes a best friend called Granpa Chook, an old Rooster. When the Judge no longer needs his help for school, Granpa Chook is killed and Peekay is also tortured. This was the last day of school but the pain was great because of Granpa Chook’s death as well. “The pain was terrible. It seemed to be happening in slow motion…” (49) But even still, Peekay was strong enough, by crossing the waterfalls, to endure the pain.
When Peekay leaves boarding school he boards the train and befriends the conductor, Hoppie, who is a top boxer in South Africa. They become fast friends and Peekay becomes interested in boxing. Hoppie is a very good boxer but Peekay’s goal is to become the welterweight champion of the world. Peekay learns that ‘small can beat big.’ Hoppie advises Peekay, “First with the head and then with the heart, that’s how a man stay’s ahead from the start.” (103) Peekay later on uses this method in his own boxing events. The broader meaning of Hoppie’s advice is to think before you act, but then to act with everything you’ve got in you.

Natalia said...

continuing part 2:

Peekay’s first real friend when he gets off the train is Doc. Doc is a professor of music. Doc teaches Peekay that happiness lies in some of the most unobvious areas. Doc is also arrested for being a German under the Aliens Act of 1939. Doc’s response to this is “You will please allow me first to shave and change my clothes. A man must go to prison in his best clothes.” (165) Even though Doc is undoubtedly not going to see Peekay and his cactus plants for a while, he picks himself up because he didn’t do anything wrong and so he continues on with the prison guards in his best attire, with his head held high. In this way Doc is teaching Peekay that sometimes, even when things seem rotten, you just have to rise above and take the high road.
Peekay faces some big obstacles. First Peekay thinks the big always beat the small because the Judge always beats him up. Another obstacle Peekay faced was racism. This issue is a recurring theme in the book. Peekay was a “rooinek”, which made him a minority in boarding school. The boarding school he went to in the beginning of the book was a majority of white Boer children. Another obstacle Peekay faced was the lack of a close and stable family. After coming back from boarding school his Nanny was gone and his mother had become super religious. Peekay also didn’t seem to have a father and his Grandpa didn’t really try and act like a supporter and help and encourage Peekay.
Peekay has overcome some of his obstacles with the help of Inkosi-Inkosikazi Hoppie, and Doc. In Peekay’s future I predict Peekay will continue boxing as form of protection and in doing so will gaining respect from his fans and his opponents. I think Peekay has learned the Power of One makes a difference and I think he will stand up against apartheid. Peekay is great at following his own conscience. He’s not afraid to smuggle notes and goods for the prisoners into the prison. Peekay follows his own conscience, and not necessarily the rules or laws of the prison. In doing so Peekay had connected with the tribes or the People. Peekay has connected with the tribes since he was little. He was raised by his Nanny, a Zulu woman. The tribes in the prison gained respect for Peekay. They like him and developed a nickname for him, “Tadpole angel,” which they called him often and with affection.

Natalia said...

Andrew I disagree with you. I think non-violence is a good way for Peekay to stand up to his peers. You're right violence usually creates continuous violence but Peekay de-escalates it by not fighting back until his chicken dies.

DavidD. said...

Part 1
Peekay’s strategies for moving through the daily violence include simply closing his eyes like in the beginning of the book: “I had my eyes tightly shut” (6), which is one of the only things he could do during some of the things he experienced. His crying was also useful to him like in this quote: “I learned that crying is a luxury good adapters have to forgo” (7), and in almost every case camouflage. Like in this quote (although it is not said by Peekay): “We are all South Africans son. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” (36)

From what we have read and what we have learned I have decided to believe that violence only creates more violence. In the case of the Boer War the hatred and the sins of the fathers were passed down to the next generation like in a Tale of Two Cities. I haven’t found an exception yet, but I know that with forgiveness and care the sins of the fathers wouldn’t be passed down. Standing up to violence in a non-violent manner may be more successful because it appears more rational and mature, like in Gandhi’s peaceful protest.

DavidD. said...

Part 2

“A man must think what he is inside. What he is on the outside, how can that matter?” –Professor Von Vollensteen. (182) This quote is very powerful to Peekay because it is one of the very few first moments when Peekay is taught to not judge someone based on the color of his skin, despite him being constantly tortured because of the color of his skin. “An idea starts small, it is only a sapling idea, but the vines will come and try to choke your idea.” (157). –PVV I believe this quote is about Peekay’s power of one idea given by Hoppie. His idea may be in danger of being choked by the evils he has encountered and it is his job to protect the idea and make sure those “vines” didn’t make the idea die. “Pride is holding your head up when others hold them down. Courage is what makes you do it” (124) –Big Hettie. For one of the very few moments in the book Big Hettie has told Peekay not to camouflage, but to hold his head up high and proud and stand out in the open. These quotes have been a valuable influence on Peekay and taught him not to judge on the outside, be proud of who you are, and don’t let valuable ideas die. These quotes show the wisdom of the characters and help push them into a more 3 dimensional characters. I am going to agree will Philip to say that the Judge will be Peekay’s rival in boxing because big vs. small is a constant motif in this book and the Judge is like Peekay’s Goliath.

-Philip I agree with your statement about non-violence and how it is effective like with the peaceful protests with Gandhi.

Olivia Licciardi said...

Part One, Question One

During the beginning of the Power of One by Bryce Courtenay, Peekay, the 5 year old protagonist deals with day to day violence because he is English and the Boers dislike him for for what the English did to them during the Boer War, so he's constantly picked upon, beat up on, gets insulted, but never says stop because he doesn't know how to deal with it. He camouflages himself so that no one truly knows what he is, an Englishman, and he ends up saying this. " Mediocrity is the best camouflage know to man" ( Courtenay, 30) At the lunch table he tries to blend in with them and do Heil Hitler, but some other children notice and push him away, since they knew who he was. " We all jumped up again, but the two kids on either side of me pushed me back into my seat. " Heil Hitler!" the rest of the dining hall chorused back." ( Courtenay, 31)
When his teacher, Miss du Plessis passes out, and all the children believe Peekay made her pass out, he truly thinks he killed her. " Look what happens when you forget your camouflage, Pisskop," I observed to myself. Then I must of passed out." ( Courtenay,33)

celliott28 said...

Peekay at his school has to deal with the wraf of the Judge and his council. When the judge and his council "Swear a blood oath to Adolf Hitler" and Peekay says, "I will swear too" (24). Peekay tires so hard to join in and be apart of something so he can get on the Judges good side so he will not be bullied. Unfortunately, this did not work out in his favor. When the Judge shows him his swastika tattoo and tells Peekay, "This tattoo means death and destruction to all rooineks. And you, Pisskop, are going to be the first." Peekay responded with a simple "Yes sir" (31). Peekay is very passive towards the violence and says whatever the judge wants to hear from him. With this he creates a camouflage which helps him survive the violence. When it came time for Peekay's last day, he was forced to "eat shit" and he silently refused, that did not work and the Judge shoved it on his face. Upset by this Grandpa Chook, "dropped a perfect bomb of green and white chicken shit, straight into the judges mouth" (47). Grandpa Chooks protests did not end in his favor and he died from being stoned to death by the judge. This leads me to conclude that even though Peekay was passive when it came to the Judge and his violence, Peekay became an easy target and was beaten and bullied regularly. When he finally non-violently stood up to the Judge, he got back at the judge, but at the cost of Grandpa Chook's death.

Hoppie is a boxer Peekay met on the train and who adopted him through out his train ride. Hoppie introduced Peekay to boxing and chanced his life. Hoppie gave Peekay advice about boxing and said, "First with the head and then with the heart,that's how a man stays ahead from the start" (103). This is not just advice about boxing even though it will probably lead him to wins and maybe a championship title. This quote is also about life, and in challenges facing Peekay's life I believe that he will use this advice in leading him to the right path.
After Hoppie left Peekay on the train, Big Hettie looked after Peekay, although she got stuck in between the beds Peekay and her and a long chat before she died, and the advice she gave him about boxing when Peekay asked was, "Pride is holding your head up when everyone around you has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it" (115). To Peekay this made no sense because all he has known is camouflage, but in Peekay's development I believe that he will use this in being "the power of one" and fighting for what he believes him because he finds his pride and courage in not just boxing, but in life.
When Peekay got of the train station he finds his mother and questions where Nanny is. When he asks Grandpa about it he explains it to him in saying, "Life is about beginnings and ends. Nothing stays the same, lad" (135). Even though Grandpa doesn't explain to him what happened to Grandpa, Grandpa gives him advice that is prevalent through out life. Peekay lost Grandpa Chook, Nanny, Big Hettie, and he will probably not see Hoppie anymore. This advice will help Peekay cope with the losses and also the losses that he will experience in the future.

celliott28 said...

Andrew disagree with you, the fact that Peekay doesn't cry isn't part of his camouflage its because he can't and this frustrates the Judge even more and leads to even more beatings. In fact he wants to cry when the Judge beats him so he doesn't upset the Judge even more.

R Davis said...

Part I

Peekay camouflages himself because he fears that if he were an outstanding student it would add to suffering. Peekay goes with the flow and agrees with every word his agressors tell him even if he doesn’t understand them. After Peekay meets Inkosi-Inkosikazi and learns to visit the dreamland, Peekay talked about how he would visit the land of the three waterfalls to escape during his torture sessions. Towards the end of the year, Peekay begins to do the Judges homework. Peekay becomes a slave to the Judge because he knows if he helps the Judge pass his classes the Judge will leave and the beatings until he leaves will be lessened.

In the beginning Peekay believes that it is best to float on and let people do what they want until they are done with you, but Peekay doesn’t always. When Grandpa Chook was killed Peekay shouted about telling the Judges teachers about how Peekay did his homework. As we progress through the book, Peekay begins to take action against aggressors.

Violence does not always bring in more violence, or at least it does not have to. Humans often will retaliate their vengeance with violence, but we don’t have to. One can be quite successful at convincing another party with non-violence because it shows strength in restraint. By not using violence to proclaim your beliefs you can impress your opponent with your restraint. When we use violence to represent our feelings our opinions loose value in the eyes of a softer and more “civil” society. Often times aggressors are simply trying to get you to react because they know that once you do give in to that temptation their sins will be justified. In the book the Judge almost wants Peekay to retaliate because it would show to everyone that the English Rooineks are just as horrible as their ancestors even in early childhood. Of course Peekay does nothing of the sort in retaliation. There is even a moment in the book where the Judge loses composure and screams, “Why won’t you cry!?” at Peekay during on of his torture sessions.

Olivia Licciardi said...

Question 2- Part 2

Peekay meets several influential people just on his way to Barberton, who have left him with life lessons he will use whenever the time comes to use them. He's met Big Hettie, Hoppie and the Professor, who have all left him with words of wisdom.
After the boxing match, Peekay was put back on the train, and Hoppie left him a note pinned to his shirt, and the ps read this. " First with the head and then with the heart, that's how a man stays ahead from the start."( Courtenay, 103) this has helped him realize that small can beat big, and this will help him later on when he boxes. Professor Vollensteen tells him this. " Of course! but sadness, like understanding, comes early in life for some. It is part of intelligence" ( Courtenay,153) which for any 7 year old boy, they may not fully understand it, but for Peekay he understood what he said and will now take it to heart. Big Hettie was his traveling companion and friend on his way home. She tells him this before she dies. "Pride is holding your head up when everyone around you has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it." ( Courtenay,124) He also takes this to heart, so when the time comes to be Courageous, to remember this and use it. These quotes show how these people Peekay encounters, and how they see Peekay,and whatever they might say should be important and full of some sort of lesson. I predict in the upcoming chapters that Peekay will learn how to box from the Prison guard, and will become a champion, and take all of these lessons, and bunch them into one, and truly grow as a protagonist and a person.

Olivia Licciardi said...

To comment on Richard's post on camouflaging, i totally agree with that fact that he does it so he doesnt have to suffer anymore then he already has, nicely done!

Nick said...

Violence has always been a major part of Peekay’s life. This violence continues day-to-day and Peekay has to use several different strategies to overcome this violence. One example is that Peekay used camouflage to hide his true intellect from Mevrou, the Judge, and the rest of his school in the beginning of this book. Another example of how Peekay handles violence is physically fighting back. When the soldiers drove to the Professor’s house to arrest him, Peekay tried to pull him away from the police and ended up having his jaw broken. The third, and most important, example is that Peekay uses boxing as a way to channel negative energy into positive energy. When Snotnose challenges Peekay to a fight, Peekay uses his boxing moves to win the fight and knockout Snotnose. I think the third example is most important because its the only positive and healthy way to handle the violence in his life.
-Quote 1- “First with the head and then with the heart, that’s how a man stays ahead from the start.” (103).
This quote is important because it was Peekay’s first friend, Hoppie, that made an impact in his life. This advice shaped Peekay’s character in how he has overcome obstacles in his life.
-Quote 2- "Pride is holding your head up when everyone around you has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it." (124).
This quote is important because Big Hettie explains how Peekay should stand out in his life and also explaining the difference between pride and courage. I think this is important to the story because it helps keep Peekay’s goodheartedness.
-Quote 3- “Sadness has a season, it will pass”.
This quote is really the only important one from Peekay’s Granpa. This quote is important because Peekay uses this as a way to keep himself happy in times of despair. He recites this quote to multiple people when they are caught in depression and it really highlights Peekay’s innocence.
All of these quotes have helped shape Peekay’s character and I think that they will be reoccurring in the book and be vital to the major themes.
My prediction is that Peekay will continue boxing and will box against other people who are fighting for the wrong reason. Peekay’s influence will cause these people to change their views and fight for the right reasons.

Response to John: John, I really liked the quotes you picked and I think you chose some very important events and quotes in the book. You also explained everything in great detail while showing great thought process.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Part 1:
Throughout the book, Peekay is both mentally and physically abused by his peers. However, through this abuse, he is given excellent advice from a variety of mentors. Through violence, Peekay is taught important life lessons that shape who he is.
One way Peekay manages this violence is using his understanding of other people’s experience. For example, Hettie tells him about her relationship with the fly weight, who would occasionally beat her, and yet he was the one she loved the most. “But a good beating never hurt, and sometimes it’s the only way those stupid men can show they love you. It’s stupid, heh?” (116). From Hettie, Peekay realizes that violence does not only come out of a place of hatred, but also a place of confusion, and sadness.
Peekay is always able to focus on a happier time or place and in turn, he can forget about the misfortune of his current situation. After Grandpa Chook dies, he says “deep inside me the loneliness bird laid a large stone egg.
“The bell for supper sounded. Our last supper at school. Everything comes to an end. Tomorrow I would be going home for Christmas and Nanny. Wonderful, soft, warm Nanny” (51). Peekay thinks of Nanny and manages to get through the rest of his time at school.
Peekay deals with the Judge’s abuse through what he calls camouflage. During his sessions with the judge, he says “you can get used to anything, I discovered” (44). Here, Peekay has learned how to reply to the Judge’s questioning. When he gives the answers the Judge wants, he fits in with the judge and his stereotypes, disabling further abuse.
Violence does perpetrate more violence, although not necesarily the same type of violence. Peekay is abused, and yet he takes this violence and changes it into boxing where he doesn’t neccesarily do harm to people who don’t want it. I think that you need a mix of the two manners in order to get your point across. However, the quote “First with the head, then with the heart” (102), applies here too because talking tends to come from the head, and then the physical manner comes from the heart.

Anonymous said...

Part 2:
One mentor that Peekay meets during his adventures is Hoppie. Hoppie is the first person who tells Peekay that small can triumph over big. He shows Peekay that this is true with his fight against Jackhammer Smit, as well as with some excellent advice. “Remember always, first with the head and then with the heart. Without both, I’m telling you, plans are useless!” (102). Following this advice, Peekay becomes more prone to think about what he will do before he acts. This quote reveals that Hoppie is a caring person, who doesn’t want to do damage because he wasn’t thinking.
Doc is another important parent figure in Peekay’s life. He has had a sad life after he had to leave his native country of Germany because of his piano concert embarassment. However, he has used this sadness to change his life, and tells Peekay his knowledge.“But sadness, like understanding, comes early in life for some. It’s part of intelligence” (153). He can associate with Peekay because he too has been sad and is very intelligent as a result. This advice allows Peekay to appreciate all his experiences, whether they are negative or positive.
Mevrou Hettie is not generally accepted in society because of her size. She also has manly like habits that are unusual. However, she always sticks up for herself and is proud of who she is. One important lesson she gives Peekay is “pride is holding your head up when everyone around has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it” (115). Following this quote, Peekay drops his camouflage, and accepts himself as a bright, young scholar.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn - I agree with your points. However, I think all of your supporting evidence could be more developed, and not as based on a chronological structure.

Catherine C. said...

At first, Peekay managed the violence perpetrated against him by internalizing it, causing him to develop his bedwetting problem and sense of inadequacy for being a “rooinek”. This overinternalization causes him to take his torture stoically, never crying once, as young boys often do when bullied. He did not cry until witnessing the death of his best friend, a chicken he called Grandpa Chook, upon which he sobbed uncontrollably, letting out a year’s worth of tears. “One thing got to all of them more than anything else. They couldn’t make me cry… Many of them had little brothers of my age at home, and they knew how easy it is for a five-year-old to cry” (45). Whether this behavior is healthy or not for a young boy, one can debate, but for a long time, that’s how Peekay coped with violence. Peekay’s next experience with extreme violence was when the local police came to arrest his new best friend, Professor Karl von Vollenstein, or “Doc”. After one of the police pours whiskey on his beloved piano, Doc smacks his wrist with his cane. He does not resist arrest after this incident, but when he is repeatedly kicked by the officer, Peekay shows bravery beyond his years and runs to protect Doc, only to receive a strong kick to the chin. “In his fury and humiliation he aimed a second kick just as, screaming, I flung myself at his legs. The army boot intended for Doc’s rubs caught me under the chin, knocking me unconcious” (167). Four missing teeth and a broken jaw later, Peekay wakes up in the hospital, concerned only with what happened to Doc. I think this passage, however, speaks more about Peekay as a person than the way he deals with violence. It shows us just how important Peekay’s friends are to him, and what he’s willing to do just to save them from pain. Lastly, Peekay’s perpetual exposure to violence can be seen in how he reacts to the vicious beating and humiliation of an African inmate by a prison official. It’s hard to tell what’s more shocking: the happiness the official takes from punishing the man, or the apathy of young Peekay. Nobody, let alone a seven-year-old, should ever be this conditioned to violence that they do not object to watching a man lick his own blood off another man’s shoes. It seems that Peekay’s reaction to violence came in stages: denial, action, apathy. I also think that, generally, violene begets violence, and that it takes some kind of special force or power to break this pattern. People who are capable of stopping an attack in purely nonviolent way are extremely rare, some might even say superhuman. This is why I am opposed to the whole zero-tolerance-on-violence idea. I agree that if there are other, non-violent options, those should be taken beforehand as they are often more effective in the long run, but sometimes in a pressed situation, violence is the only way you can get your message across.

Catherine C. said...

“Sometimes it’s good to cry. Sometimes you fight better once you’ve had a good cry” (68).
This may be surprising advice, coming from such a tough-as-nails welterweight as Hoppie Groenewald, but good advice nonetheless, and something Peekay was not aware of until this moment. At the boarding school, not expressing his emotions was one form of camouflage that Peekay was forced to use. Hoppie’s advice certainly has shaped him, and one can see Peekay taking his advice at the boxing match, when he is certain that Hoppie will be defeated. Crying is one of the most basic human instincts, and is spiritually cleansing as well as physically rejuvenating. This quote shows how in touch Hoppie is with his emotions, and that he values this power to connect with himself as one must have in order to harness the “power of one”, which I believe Peekay will achieve by the end of the book.

“Pride is holding your head up when everyone around you has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it” (115).
This anecdote is delivered by Big Hettie to Peekay while she is still stuck in the train compartment. This proves to be extremely important piece of advice to Peekay in the future, especially when he begins fighting, to build up his self-confidence. Pride and courage are all things that were destroyed, completely wiped from Peekay from his time at the boarding school. This quote also explains a lot about Big Hettie. Everyone has their specific definition of pride and courage, and for Hettie, these two ideas are all about how one appears to others. This suggests that Hettie is a very public person who may wear a “mask” in a crowd to hide who she really is, because she has been hurt before by showing who she really is. I think that Peekay will have at least one situation where he is made to “bow his head”, but refuses, demonstrating both pride and courage.

“To be smart is not a sin. But to be smart and not use it, that, Peekay, is a sin” (162).
This quote perfectly sums up Doc’s idea of the application of knowledge. I think this is one of those things that can be confused in a young boy’s mind, such as Peekay rationalizing him doing the Judge’s homework as him demonstrating his skills to their full potential. This is just an example, and not the reason for Peekay doing his work for him, but it’s possible that someone could take an advantage of this and force Peekay into misusing his smarts. On the other hand, it’s good that Peekay was told this by Doc and rather his grandfather or his mother, because not only does he highly respect Doc, but he is also the smartest person, in the academic and social sense, that Peekay knows. Sin is also usually perceived as a religious term, and so by that we can use this passage as more information about Doc’s specific version of God. Peekay’s mother’s God is one that Peekay does not respect, believing Him to be the cause of his mother’s insanity and the dismissal of Nanny. Doc’s god, on the other hand, is a gentle and creative being, who not only blessed the land with the beauty of nature but also values intelligence and observation over obedience and discrimination. Peekay would much rather observe the idea of God that Doc believes in, not his mother.

I agree with Phil when he says that the power and justification of violence depends on the situation. The “younger sibling” analogy is a perfect example of the seeming inevitability of violence, and the fact that we can only enforce a pacifist ideal within ourselves, and that other people will resort to violence even if you set an example for them.

EmilyA said...

Part One:
In the beginning of The Power of One, Peekay is constantly beaten and exposed to violent behavior. He manages this extremely well for a young boy. His experience at boarding school was the first time Peekay had been exposed to violence, because previously he had been shielded from reality because of his Nanny. At school Peekay quickly learns how to deal with brutality by camouflaging himself, and by not fighting back. "When the Judge and his council of war had all pissed on me, they left" (5). From the very first night Peekay is at boarding school he is abused. In this instance he ignores the abuse and does not fight back. By the end of the first semester, Peekay "learned that crying is a luxury good adapters have to forgo" (7). He camouflages himself by not letting anyone see his weakness or vulnerability. A normal five year old would cry if he was picked on the way Peekay is, but by not letting the fear get to him Peekay doesn't give the Judge a reason to continue the bullying. Peekay also camouflages himself in school. He is a very bright person but does not want to stand out in school. He follows the idea that "mediocrity is the best camouflage known to man"(30). Peekay tried to fit in at school by being normal and trying to go unnoticed. I don't think that violence always perpetrates more violence. For some people one act of violence is enough to satisfy them and then move on. I believe that standing up to the violent person in a non-violent way is much more effective than standing up in a violent way. However, it is extremely difficult to have enough courage to do this.

EmilyA said...

Part two:
Peekay meets several people from the time he leaves home for boarding school and when he arrives in Barberton. Perhaps one of the most influential is Hoppie. Hoppie is a young welterweight boxer who works on the train Peekay is taking. He teaches Peekay a very important lesson in that you must go "first with the head and then with the heart. Without both, I'm telling you, plans are useless" (102). Peekay thinks about this lesson over and over again during the rest of his travels. This advice helps Peekay have confidence in himself. It motivates him to become a boxer, although the odds are against him, and teaches him to stand up to kids when they tease him because he is English. Hoppie's advice to Peekay helps him realize the power each person has in their lives. I think Peekay will always carry Hoppie's advice with him to help him during hard times in his life.
Big Hettie is also an influential person on Peekay because of one of the last things she said to him. Peekay first met Hettie at the boxing match but she also traveled with him on the train to Barberton. Unfortunately, Big Hettie died during the travel but she gave Peekay the advice "Pride is holding your head up when everyone around you has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it" (124). This shows that Big Hettie was not afraid of who she was even though she stood out from other people because she was huge. It was hard for her to fit in but she does it by following her own advice. At this point Peekay is a very shy young boy who likes to camouflage himself so he doesn't stand out. I think this quote helps Peekay shed his camouflage because he realizes the he cannot change who he is but he can change the way he portrays himself. I think the combination of Hoppie's and Big Hetties advice will help Peekay learn that in order to be the best person he can be he has to embrace his heritage and learn to be proud of it.
The last person that influences Peekay is Professor von Vollensteen. He meets Peekay on his first day in Barberton. The Professor, also known as Doc, becomes one of Peekay's closest friends. He teaches him to play the piano and learn about botany, mainly cacti. Doc taught Peekay that, "It is better to be wrong than simply to follow convention" (157). By this he means that you shouldn't be afraid to be wrong just because you want to fit in. Experimenting with things is only going to make you more knowledgeable and smarter in the long term rather than trying to camouflage all the time. This advice has helped Peekay because he has learned to let down his camouflage in certain situations and that he doesn't always have to fit in perfectly with everyone else, that it is okay to be different.

Andrew, I liked the way you broke down how Peekay reacts in certain situations. I think you are agree that Peekay will eventually learn to stand up to his aggressors through boxing.